Writers give entries for Scots dictionary

Share this article

SECRET scribblings by some of Scotland’s leading authors are set to go under the hammer in the Capital to help fund a new Scots language dictionary.

A draft version of the opening page of what might turn out to be the last Rebus novel and a poem by Harry Potter author JK Rowling are among the treasures on offer.

None of the hand-written drafts has been seen before in public and all have been donated by the authors. Some contain personal touches, such as the writer’s own corrections and signatures.

City-based crime writer Ian Rankin has given one of the star items by offering a tantalising clue to how his famous Edinburgh detective, John Rebus, might meet his end.

His single-sheet donation, which he marked "a possible opening to the final Rebus novel", sets out a scene where Rebus arranges to meet his arch enemy, the gangster "Big Ger" McCafferty.

His Merchiston neighbours JK Rowling and Alexander McCall Smith have also given examples of their work.

The Harry Potter author donated a poem which she had cut from one of her early books, while McCall Smith has given a series of pieces, including an article about his love of writing about Africa.

The celebrated poet Edwin Morgan has donated a signed story.

The collection is being displayed at the Scottish Poetry Library until Thursday. It will be sold off on March 24 by Edinburgh auction house Lyon and Turnbull.

Scottish Language Dictionaries organised the auction in a bid to raise 90,000 to help fund the printing of an updated version of the Concise Scots Dictionary.

Chris Robinson, the director of Outreach and Administration at Scottish Language Dictionaries, said she was "absolutely overwhelmed by the generosity of their response".

She added: "I used sheer brass neck to get hold of the drafts. I wrote letters to the most famous people I could think of, and to my astonishment, these came flooding in.

"Making a guess about how much will be raised, that’s the impossibility. The Harry Potter draft is priceless."

Philip Gregory, a spokes-man for the auctioneers said: "It is a rather wonderful auction, in that often we are dealing with authors who are no longer living. JK Rowling is probably one of the more unusual authors, she usually commands very high prices."

Rowling’s contribution is The Ballad of Nearly Headless Nick, which she cut from Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets.

Morgan donated the unpublished Tale from Baron Munchausen: My Visit to St Petersburg, which is typed and signed.

The Edinburgh playwright and novelist Ron Butlin gave a handwritten poem, the poignant Contemporary Music in Scotland.

Alasdair Gray, author of the celebrated novel Lanark, donated a signed print.

Lilias Fraser, the audience development officer at the Scottish Poetry Library, said: "We are delighted that Scottish Language Dictionaries are doing this, because it is a lovely idea."